Life and Church Ministry
Peter Kinyanjui Macharia was born in 1921 in Limuru, Kenya. His parents were Anglicans, but he was a Catholic, attending Holy Family Thigio Church, Limuru near his home area. While young, he felt a call to the priesthood and joined St. Augustine’s Minor Seminary in Nyeri. In 1939, he was sent to Rome to for his studies in theology and philosophy. He was ordained in Rome in March 1946 at St. Peters College. He also received his Doctorate in Divinity from there in 1948.
After his return to Kenya in 1949, he worked in the Diocese of Nyeri in various parishes. In 1956, he was appointed parish priest of Kiambu Catholic Mission and, in 1959, he became one of the counselors in Nyeri Diocese. On April 21, 1961, he was appointed auxiliary Bishop of Major Cavallera and, on May 21 of the same year, he was consecrated bishop in Rome by Pope John XXIII together with thirteen other bishops from mission countries.
On November 25, 1964, Pope Paul VI made him Bishop of Nyeri, when Bishop Cavellar was transferred to the Diocese of Marsabit. He is very popular as he was the first Kikuyu Catholic bishop in Kenya. He is responsible for developing the Catholic Church in central Kenya, where he started many schools and congregations. He is remembered for his pastoral dedication and the good relationship he had with people and authorities in the country, especially Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s government.
Interestingly, Kinyanjui had been born in a Protestant family but opted to become Catholic because he believed that the Catholic Church had more freedom. In early 1967, he started disagreeing with some of the Catholic beliefs and practices despite the fact that he was a Catholic bishop. He later joined his parents’ church, that is, the Anglican Church, and got married. Sadly, he did not find any satisfaction in the Anglican Church. He felt that the Anglican Church was very similar to the Catholic Church and, as such, did not quench the spiritual thirst of its people. He thus did not agree with many beliefs and practices of both the Anglicans, representing the Protestants, and the Catholics.
In May 1969, he quit the Anglican Church and started his own ministry known as The Resurrected Christ Ministries. He felt that people dissatisfied with the practices of the Anglican and Catholic Churches would find refuge in his Church. As expected, his ministry attracted many followers from the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church and other churches.
His Major Contributions
He contributed to the moral life of the church because he was against Christians who continued the practice of committing sins and then going to confess to the priest in the Catholic Church. For the Protestants, he felt that even though pastors and other church leaders are married, they continue to be involved in sexual immorality. He called all Christians to total repentance and change of life.
He started many congregations in Kenya and beyond. The Resurrected Christ Ministries have gone global. Although he is dead, he is highly acknowledged by members of the Church and other Kenyans.
He started schools and hospitals, notably Bishop Kinyanjui Schools and Hospital that are located in Kiambu County. Kinyanjui School includes a pre-school, that is, a kindergarten, apPrimary school from class one to eight, and a secondary school with Forms one to four. He also started a college by the name of Bishop Kinyanjui Nursing School. His aim was promote religious life, empower people through educational and help the young people develop their life career.
He died on February 20, 2003 at the age of eighty-two. He was buried in Kiambu where he had built his first church. He left a good legacy and he became a role model to many. His love for religion and education fascinated many.
Dickson Nkonge Kagema
Baur, John (1990). The Catholic Church in Kenya: A Centenary History. Nairobi: St. Paul.
Njoroge, Elizabeth (2016). Oral Interview, Kiambu.
Kinyanjui, M [Kinyanjui’s son] (2016). Oral Interview, Kiambu.
This article, received in 2017, was written by Dickson Nkonge Kagema, PhD. Dr. Kagema is Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies & Philosophy at Chuka University in Kenya and Research Associate in Practical Theology & Missiology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. He is a Canon in the Anglican Church of Kenya. His email is [email protected].